Past Event

Expertise from Margin to Center: Science, Politics, and Democracy

April 14, 2016 - April 15, 2016
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
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Knox Hall, Columbia University, 606 West 122nd Street, New York

Keynote Speakers: Sheila Jasanoff (Harvard University), Stefan Timmermans (UCLA)

Faculty Participants: Gil Eyal, Alondra Nelson, and Diane Vaughan (Columbia University)

The conference aims to strengthen STS scholarship by promoting research and network building among early career scholars, and participation is open to graduate students from any institution.

This conference will be centered on the topic of expertise as a concept designating the interface between the political and scientific orders, and its relation to processes informing social inequalities, such as gender, race, and class politics. We encourage contributions from graduate students in all disciplines on the broad thematic of expertise. Example themes for papers include but are not limited to:

  1. Origins of Expertise: What are the historical origins of modern forms of expertise? In what contexts do experts emerge? How are knowledge and practice of expertise constructed and legitimated? How can we explain the contemporary significance of experts in realms such as law and policy making?
  2. Democracy, Expertise and Power: How are experts and stakeholders able to craft effective interventions in public affairs? How can we reconcile expertise and democracy? How is expertise manifested in credibility, control of material resources, network position, and/or ability to make a fact a fact?
  3. Technology, Tools and Expert Tasks: What relationships develop between experts and their tools? In what contexts do technologies reinforce expertise, and in what contexts do they threaten to replace experts?
  4. Contesting Expertise: How do individuals and groups contest expertise and with what long-term consequences for the interface between science and politics? Which marginalized individuals and groups have acquired the role or status of experts and how have they done so?

Please see the preliminary schedule for more details.

This conference is organized by graduate students from the Columbia University Department of Sociology, with support from the Center of Science and Society.